Formations Summary

May–August 2022

Unit 1: Worship that Pleases God

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair

The Hebrew Bible includes many instructions for worship. However, the New Testament reveals few details about specifically where, when, how, or with what early Christians worshiped God. What the New Testament does teach on this subject is exhibited through faithful example. Through five passages, we will explore some of these examples, including Jesus selflessly serving and then setting boundaries, a parable of prayer and pride, and churches gathering for worship to help them face society’s challenges. We will also study Paul’s teachings on discernment and deference in worship and how pastoral liturgy and prophetic vision honor God. In the end, we will see how worship that pleases God is what we do every day of our lives: seek God’s presence, practice wonder, encourage each other, and express praise.

Unit 2: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Joseph LaGuardia

This unit explores the fullness of God as the Trinity, the mystery that God is Three-Persons-in-One. The first lesson, appropriate for Pentecost, will explore the role and presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. Lesson two will communicates the unity of God the Father and God the Son, challenging us to belong, believe, and behave as God’s people. Lesson three will express our inclusion in the family of God, being baptized “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” while inviting others to become a part of God’s family. Finally, lesson four will encourage us to live into the reality that, in God, we share in this divine nature. The relationship that God shares in the context of the Trinity envelops us in a relationship that incorporates worship, discipleship, and the Great Commission.

Unit 3: Jacob’s Sons

Chris O’Rear

The stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs of our faith contain some of the more challenging details to understand or apply to our lives. These are passages that preachers often ignore or avoid in Bible studies. If we are to be true students of the Bible and faithful followers of Jesus, however, we need to wrestle with these passages to discern what eternal truths they may contain. Over five weeks, we will look at lessons about the children of Jacob. Some of these stories involve abuse perpetrated by powerful men, sexual details, and even rape. They are difficult to read and may be more difficult for some to discuss because of their own experiences. But the stories are enshrined in Scripture for a purpose. In these lessons, we’ll try to discern the truths that are conveyed without glossing over their unpleasant details.

Unit 4: Wisdom Divine and Human

Paul Mullen, Gina Brock

The Corinthian believers lived in a tension between the wisdom of God and the ways of the world. They often chose the self-centeredness of worldly wisdom, which led to an array of problems. Through this unit, we will explore some such problems, and try to discern both how they impacted the Corinthians and how they can affect us too. Because God’s wisdom challenges our human ways of thinking, we will particularly look at how humility and selflessness are viewed by humanity. We will also examine how human stubbornness can make arguments and conflicts in the church worse, and seek ways to resolve such conflicts. May we challenge ourselves and encourage each other to discern and apply God’s wisdom to our lives.

September–December 2022

Unit 1: Unwrapping Spiritual Gifts

Carol Davis Younger

Paul suggests that when God gives us a spiritual gift, God brings other gifts for us to unwrap as well. Over the course of these four sessions, we will consider all of the gifts that God offers us, those used to serve the body of Christ and those that make us more Christlike. By focusing on how spiritual gifts deepen our relationship with God and God’s people, we will focus on ways gifts are to work together with other people’s gifts rather than be used alone. As we will see by the end of the unit, being part of Christ’s body gives us the opportunity to mature in faith, grow into the fullness of Christ, and become who God intends us to be.

Unit 2: Giving in the New Testament

Leigh Powers

Giving is part of life. We give gifts to mark special occasions like holidays, birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries. At church we give tithes, offerings, and gifts for special projects such as mission trips or youth events. We give to support causes that are important to us and to show people that we care about them. What does the Bible say about giving, and how do we honor God with our gifts? Through four New Testament texts, in this unit will help us explore how we can give of our time, talents, and resources for the glory of God.

Unit 3: After the Exile

LaMon Brown

This unit will look at postexilic Israel through the lens of four questions: How can I mark the milestones of my spiritual journey? What am I called to rebuild? What would renewal look like in my life? How can I find joy in the word of God? We will study how the Jewish people approached and sought to answer each question as they remembered what had happened to them and among them. We will also explore how to draw on what came before to build or rebuild our lives of faith. Like the returning exiles, we are also a people of a book, and over these four weeks we will seek to recapture joy in our relationship with God’s word.

Unit 4: Foremothers of Jesus

Lance Wallace

A genealogy is a study in representation. In this Advent and Christmas unit of five lessons, we will see the five women represented in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Some of these women have admittedly scandalous stories, which is perhaps more reason to explore why Matthew included these women in his list. How might these women’s stories open our eyes to otherwise forgotten truths about the incarnation? What can their stories teach us about anticipating Christmas this year? Through this study, we will lean upon the generations of God’s people who anticipated Christ’s coming, helping us to recapture the meaning and joy of the season.